A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.
- November 30
- Egad. I've been a bit short on updates here, have I not. Here's
some nerd grumbling:
My home office setup uses an old-ish Dell 105-key "Windows" USB
keyboard connected to the office Mac. The office Mac uses Apple's
funky interpretation of the UK keyboard layout, i.e. shift-3 is
£ rather than #. Tools I use on a daily basis: Emacs,
Microsoft RDP connected to XRDP running on a Redhat-ish Linux, and
AWS Workspaces Client connected to a Windows machine of some
EVERYONE has different ideas about the keyboard.
In particular, everyone has different ideas about how I type "#",
which, as you might expect for a Python programmer, is pretty
Firstly, I've got the Dell keyboard mapped "correctly" in as much
as pressing a key on the Dell keyboard is equivalent to pressing
the same physical key on the Mac's built-in
keyboard. This means, of course, that the Dell keyboard's keycaps
don't necessarily reflect the effect they have on the Mac. Fine,
muscle memory works ok, I only occasionally get it wrong and I
know where to go to find the keys I want, mostly. In this
part of the setup, "#" is AltGr-3, or Right-Option-3 in MacSpeak.
Emacs, I dunno. I reconfigured it years ago so that it
unequivocally interprets a whole variety of things involving "3"
and the modfier keys as "#".
Microsoft RDP talks to XRDP about the keyboard setup, they decide
on something that's not correct, and the net result is that "#" is
obtained from a key next to the Return key when you're at the
xrdp-sesman screen; once past that I've got a fairly
comprehensive keyboard remapping file that fixes up ALL THE
THINGS (actually just MOST OF THE THINGS, specifically the things
I care about remapping), putting "#" back on shift-3 where it
belongs. This is an odd sort of setup so I'm ok with it being a
AWS Workspaces correctly interprets the Dell keyboard as the Mac
sees it, i.e. AltGr-3 gets me a "#" key. Once it's connected to the
Windows instance, though, "#" becomes... shift-3. I have
no idea what's going on here.
I'm not clear on why each of these things has its own special way
of interpreting the keyboard; my caveman-like brain figures the OS
should tell everyone what the setup is, and everyone would behave
One final twist for the OS-level configuration: if you use the
System Preferences to swap around the left-hand Option and Command
keys so that they're in the same position as the Mac keyboard, it
won't work. It swaps both sides, so your bottom row is
Fn, Ctrl, Option, Cmd, Space, Option, Cmd. In order to make it
Mac-like, where both Cmd keys are directly adjacent to the
spacebar and the Option keys are the next key out from that in
opposite directions, you need to manually reconfigure the keyboard
with some USB HID commands. I've got this set up on a LaunchAgent
which runs when a USB keyboard is detected; if it's one of the
three keyboards I plug into regularly (home, office standard,
personal office keyboard), it automatically reconfigures things so
the Option and Cmd keys are correct. Just to make this a little
extra difficult, it doesn't appear possible to configure it to run
when it sees any USB keyboard: I have to specify the
Product and Vendor IDs of the keyboards, and the relevant
launchd hook only accepts one at a time, so I've actually
got three of these agents set up, all identical except for the IDs
that trigger them.
For good measure, my home Mac - a much older beast with the same
pretend-UK keyboard layout - reliably gives me a "#" from
Shift-3 at the OS level. This appears to be because I
told it to use a US keyboard layout, but every other key
behaves the way its keycap says it should.
- November 15
- Another one that's been on the list for ages: They Shall Not Grow Old.
Filmed, as the closing credit says, on location on the Western
Front, 1914-1918. The switch from black-and-white Pathé
newsreel style to colourised, stablised, speed-corrected
widescreen is almost physical in its impact, but the rest of it: I
think if you've read "All Quiet On The Western Front" or otherwise
encountered any WWI "deglamourised" history, none of it will
really come as a surprise. The footage is fairly grim in places,
so be warned of that if you plan on watching this - and it's a
different sort of grim to, say, Saving Private Ryan where
something, maybe, at the back of your head is reminding you that
it's a recreation. This isn't a recreation.
- November 14
- Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary
is something I've been meaning to watch for ages, and it was worth
watching - certainly a good deal more palatable than the recent
trend for doing such things as "Oral Histories". Lots of good bits
and laughs, including the Tim Allen / Steven Spielberg / Alan
Rickman story that the director was persuaded to tell. I think the
most interesting thing about it is that no-one seemed to
have a coherent story about Rickman - he hated Tim Allen, but
there's a still of him literally doubling up laughing with Allen;
he was aloof, except he wasn't; he told one of the producers with
a pained expression that "it was fun intermittently". Whatever the
truth of the matter is, it's hard to see anyone else selling the
role as well as he did.
- November 13
- Work laptop has been running the Ventura point release for a
couple of days without crashing but, well, I'm not using
it so it could just be teasing.
- November 10
- And now we're done with Vikings Season 5 Part 1, and it looks
like Season 6 - the final season - has been added to our available
viewing, so that's nice.
Social Media Bird Site continues to be an ever-growing trash
fire. I may be inclined to put my account to sleep.
- November 7
- Crashing Ventura macOS somewhat improved by reseting
the PRAM, but this annoys me on two counts: firstly, it's an
opaque fix - there are any number of things stored in PRAM, and
who knows which of them was at fault? - and secondly, it smells of
failure to invalidate cached data from the previous OS
If you're part of the exodus to Mastodon,
- November 4
- Got our Smart Meter installed.
Cramped location and a lack of advance surveying meant the
installer got a "surprise, you're hosed" experience which meant
that 45 minutes without electricity became about 2 hours without
electricity. Now we just have to wait for ESB Networks to roll out
their provider-independent gateway (apparently this month!) so we
can access the data without having to actually get on a
(potentially) more expensive tariff to do so.
Work laptop has had a full OS reinstall, to no avail. USB
definitely seems to be the source of the problem but nailing it
down any more clearly than that appears difficult to
impossible. This weekend I'll be applying the magic "reset NVRAM,
reset SMC" fixes, and then contemplating how best to roll back to
the previous OS.
Rebooting the house means one of my "smart plugs" which had
stopped publishing data is back publishing data again and, er,
jeez. Power drain city. (it's the one all the computer toys are
- November 1
- I upgraded the work laptop to Ventura and, well, it's been
constant rebootsville since. It looks like maybe something in
USBland is unhappy but so far no diagnosis. Of particular
concern/interest is that once the OS starts booting properly, my
USB hub appears to go through rapid, recurring
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